The World Championships an “incredible experience” for Mitchel Fitzsimons
Jo Groenevinger / Tips
Mitchel Fitzsimons on his way to 50th place at the UCI Road World Championships for junior men in Leuven, Belgium.
A 50th place at the World Road Cycling Championships in Belgium delighted South Canterbury exporter Mitchel Fitzsimons.
The 18-year-old pilot, who spent the last few years at Invercargill before heading overseas, was one of three New Zealand riders in the 178-man junior group in Leuven on September 24.
“It was my first race at the world championships,” said an elated Fitzsimons. The Timaru Herald.
“To finally be able to participate in the world championships is a great achievement for me. “
Fitzsimons’ ranking in the 121.4 kilometer race was the best of the day for New Zealand, with Lewis Bower placing 53rd and Jack Carswell not finishing.
“It was an incredible experience, and it was a difficult race because it was on a street circuit, which is not normal.
“It was a pretty tight course with 178 runners on it and there were a lot of crashes, with pretty difficult positioning during the race.”
Fitzsimons’ positioning took a hit when he was caught in a crash.
“It was on my third lap of eight, I was caught by the fall in front of me.
“Although I didn’t crash, I couldn’t catch up with the other drivers after that, and I finished in 50th place.”
Fitzsimons started cycling at the age of 12 and dominated age group track and road races across New Zealand for several years before moving on from Timaru’s Roncalli College to Southland Boy’s High School at the age of 14 to access the indoor velodrome and the training facilities at Invercargill.
Although he moved to Southland, his connection to South Canterbury remains with his parents living in Twizel.
“I’ve been riding a bike since I was 12, and I love to cycle and run, and it has continued.
“I have a good track racing experience.”
Fitzsimons completely turned his attention to road racing in early 2021 as Covid-19 played the spoilsport at its track events.
“I was selected for the junior track world championships in Egypt last year, but it was canceled due to Covid-19, and I was selected again this year, but New Zealand has chose not to send a team.
“I have raced on the track and on the road earlier, but the transition to the roads was completely over in early 2021.
“I had to change discipline to focus more on the road as it was my last year in the junior category.”
In 2021, Fitzsimons also took part in three-month races with a Belgian junior team, Gaverzicht Be-okay.
Fitzsimons has won several accolades during his cycling journey including winning the National Age Group Championships in Rotorua, Lake Dunstan Cycle Classic, Hill Climb Prologue in the Central Hawke’s Bay NRS Junior Tour, New Zealand Club Road Nationals Road Race, GP De La Tirelite (Leuze), two victories and 4 podiums in Belgium.
Fitzsimons, who is now in MIQ quarantine in New Zealand, will be keen to end the season on a high note, with the Tour of Southland slated for November.
“I’ll be doing the Southland Tour the first week of November, then it’s off season for me.
“I am also very grateful for the support from my family and the cycling community in New Zealand.”